The following blog entry, by Brian Schroller, was prompted by a meeting Yura Belonozhkin had with some men when he was recently in the States. I think you’ll appreciate the message:
“What we find in our heroes and martyrs is a living witness to the fact that the true life of faith can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if one takes it on bravely and gallantly, as something of a grand adventure in which we set out into an unknown country to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.” — Alan Hirsch
He was not what I expected at all. He was humble, of average height, and had pretty long hair. The iconic images I had of Russian men, fashioned from far too many movies, would have given him well over 6 feet, a crew cut, and a steely resolved Communist jaw. He was none of those things. I wrestled for a few minutes with unbelief given the stories I had heard of this man.
And then he started to speak. Politely answering questions at first and then his masculine heart for leading other men started to rise. Hailing from northernmost Russia, he does similar men’s ministry to mine in the most inhospitable climate you could imagine; culturally, spiritually, and even meteorologically. He is a fierce lion among lambs who have lost their shepherd.
His target is generations of Russian men ravaged by fatherlessness and the hopelessness that Communism has wrought. You essentially exterminate a generation of fathers and then rob every other man of the ability to choose his future, his means, his way of life, and even what he believes…rob him of his ability to lead…and what you find is a country full of passive and discouraged men. That is the current state of Mother Russia.
In both Spring and Winter he leads groups of men toward the Arctic circle with the restoration of their masculine identity as their only quarry. He is a freedom fighter for hope, healing, and establishing an intimate relationship with the Wild One whose image we bear. He is tireless, impassioned, and startlingly humble.
If I hiked men toward the top of the world, drilled holes in ice, caught fresh salmon, and then ceremonially shared raw bites of the catch with men I had led there to introduce to Jesus, you couldn’t shut me up about it. If I sat on [a ship] in the exact chair of my chaplain father, chaplain for Communism by the way, and introduced men to life, I’d be working on the screenplay. Yura, however, seems almost embarrassed that God has chosen him for such a story.
Check out his story and images here.
His life and story have been incredibly disruptive to mine through our brief engagement.
(. . . Me and my mates are endeavoring to bring he and his ministry partner back for a boot camp (men’s ministry) in the Fall and some of us are hoping to join him for one of his.)